Cécile B Evans: Hyperlinks at Seventeen
Hyperlinks is an audacious new exhibition by award-winning Belgian-American artist Cécile B Evans at Seventeen gallery. The full title of the exhibition – Hyperlinks, or it didn’t happen – alludes to an Internet challenge: if you share an anecdote on a web forum, skeptical readers might request proof from you with the cry “screenshots, or it didn’t happen!” We all know how easily images can be manipulated, yet we still perceive them to be a proper measure of veracity. Thus Evans follows Plato, Descartes and fellow Belgian Magritte in exploring a central paradox of art and philosophy: how much confidence can we have in reality if our frail minds remain vulnerable to error, deception and illusion?
Hyperlinks is a well conceived exhibition that combines sculpture, photography and video. Many of the displays merely orbit the most interesting and best conceived focus of this exhibition – a digital TV playing thematically linked short films. The videos, about an hour long, are narrated by a variety of virtual avatars, which include a friendly Japanese Vocaloid (a digital singing marionette) and an uncanny rendering of the late Philip Seymour-Hoffman, sharing their musings on death, life and love through prose, song and verse.
Evans transforms her exhibit from being simply installation art into what neo-geographical theory describes as a palimpsest: an augmented reality created by melding representations of material with its virtual equivalent. Though she has engineered the videos to be obscure and self-referential, she also takes on the role of mystagogue and provides a glossary to help visitors decipher many of the mysterious references. Copies of the glossary are provided at the door to the exhibition or can be obtained from the friendly curators. Visitors are encouraged to examine the many physical artefacts laid out near the TV. These include a copy of Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man and several laminated printouts that hint at Nathan’s story. The videos frequently reference both Ellison’s novel and Nathan’s tale, so these props are useful.
A constant theme throughout the video is love and the imperative it provides life. It’s in this context that Nathan tells us about his partner, Emily, who a year after dying in a car crash, thwarted death and suddenly began to update her afterlife status and share ghostly photos on Facebook.
Perhaps you are skeptical of Nathan’s story. He has the screenshots.
Hyperlinks is at Seventeen until 6th December 2014, for further information visit here.